, Volume 75, Issue 4, pp 512-515

Parasitic castration: host species preferences, size-selectivity and spatial heterogeneity

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This study investigates host-parasite population dynamics in a marine intertidal community of three barnacle host species (Balanus glandula, Chthamalus fissus andC. dalli). Our paper addresses the following questions: (1) Does prevalence (percentage parasitism) differ among the three host species? (2) What are the spatial and temporal population dynamics within the community? and (3) Does the parasite exhibit size-selective behaviour in any of the three host species? Significant differences in prevalence were found among the three host species; the parasitic castrator (Hemioniscus balani) most heavily infected the least abundant host. Parasitism occurred throughout the year and also showed significant spatial variation.H. balani showed size-selective parasitism inC. fissus, but not inC. dalli. Consequently, the population effects of parasitic castration inC. fissus depend both upon the host population size structure and the intensity of the parasite's size-selectivity.